RSA SR-71a

Ray Samuels managed to create one hell of a portable amp in the RSA SR-71a.

Plugged in to the extremely revealing, legendary Apuresound recabled Etymotic ER4P, and you immediately hear a clean, uncolored amp with a killer resolution that no other portables can touch.

Plugged in to Sennheiser’s HD650, the SR-71a drove it with the most authority out of all the portable amplifiers I have tried. Impact after impact, even complex passages on Beethoven’s No.9, the SR71-a never ran out of breath.

If you’re looking for a colored sound, then look elsewhere, cause the SR-71a doesn’t add any color. If you’re looking for a small portable amp, then RSA has the P-51 Mustang or the RSA Shadow. If you want a DAC, the SR-71a doesn’t have one. If you want a rechargeable internal battery, the SR-71a doesn’t have it either. The SR-71a is a box of pure high class portable amplification and nothing less.

Before the SR-71a, Ray had the SR-71. According to RSA’s website, at one point in time the parts became unavailable for the SR-71, and so Ray had to come out with a new design which eventually will be the SR-71a. Well, parts shortage turns out to be a blessing in disguise, because otherwise we wouldn’t have the improved SR-71a with the gain selector switch and a smaller footprint than the original. Though the RSA website only stated 500pcs SR-71a will be produced, I never heard anybody actually having a problem obtaining an SR-71a. There were also talks circulating on how the original SR-71 supposed to sound better than the SR-71a. Honestly, I cannot comment on that, as I don’t have the original SR-71 to compare to.

For $450+shipping, you get one of the most awesome sound that can fit into a jeans pocket. The SR-71a also has the usual first class RSA casing with beautifully silk screened lettering. Even with the power it puts out, you still get a great battery life out of the two 9 Volts, especially more with alkaline batteries.

I really don’t have anything to complain about the SR-71a. It’s one of the best portable amps money can buy.

GOOD: Clean sound, high resolution, very powerful for a portable, great battery life, great build quality.

NO GOOD: May lack the bells and whistles of other portables such as size, DAC, crossfeed.

System for auditioning:

Headphones: Sennheiser HD650, Apuresound recabled Etymotics ER-4P
Source: Ipod Touch 2nd Gen
Amplifier: Ray Samuels SR-71a

Special thanks to Dayak for making this review possible.

4/5 - (5 votes)


  • Reply July 1, 2012


    This doesn’t even have a DC out correct? It will only run on batteries.

  • Reply February 28, 2013

    Isaiah Mackler

    As of you’ve said many times, Mike, the drum kick is awesome on the SR71A! What it does to bass on the HD650 is the single biggest improvement with this amp.

    • Reply February 28, 2013


      I know! It’s simply amazing right?

  • Reply April 20, 2013

    Eli Segal

    I always hear that the SR71A slamming the bass, does it means that it’s output a more boomy bass?

    • Reply April 20, 2013


      Not boomy, but tight full deep bass.

    • Reply April 25, 2013


      Not boomy, powerful but not boomy

  • Reply November 30, 2018


    What about driving very low impedance IEM like Shure se846 rated for 9ohms ?

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